London region sees 7 new COVID-19 cases amid louder calls for improved safety in elder care

The London region added another seven new cases to its COVID-19 caseload, bringing the total number to 409 amid calls for improved safety in elder care as the illness festers in 198 seniors facilities across Ontario.

Caseload for the London region is now at 409, with 225 cases resolved and 38 deaths

In order to encourage physical distancing, city crews in London have created more space for pedestrians along narrow corridors such as this bridge at the foot of Dundas Street. (Colin Butler/CBC)

London regional health authorities added seven new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing the area's total to 409. 

One new death was also reported Friday, bringing the number of fatalities up to 38. 

The woman in her 80s was not a resident of an eldercare facility where the vast majority of the community's 184 active coronavirus cases continue to fester among staff and the vulnerable seniors who live there. 

The London-Middlesex Health Unit said Friday that of the 77 active cases in long-term care facilities across the region, 49 residents and 27 staff have been infected. Fifteen people have died.  

Retirement homes have fared slightly better with 44 active cases affecting 32 residents and 12 staff, as well as five deaths. 

Elmwood Place is among a number of long-term care homes in London, Ont. to declare a COVID-19 outbreak. (Colin Butler/CBC)

As of Thursday, the London region had 10 COVID-19 outbreaks, almost all of them among eldercare facilities. Provincewide, there are currently 198 outbreaks in long-term care and retirement facilities where the density of physically frail and vulnerable seniors is higher. 

On Friday, an Ontario health care advocacy group is organizing a day of action to call for improved conditions at the province's long-term care and retirement homes.

The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) says the Ford government must improve access to COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and create safer working conditions at the facilities.